Man Accused of Roommate's Murder Refuses to Enter Plea
A Prince William County Circuit Court judge entered a not guilty plea on David Wayne Laws' behalf, but the Manassas man's trial was still postponed for unrelated issues.
One by one on Monday morning, the charges against David Wayne Laws, of Manassas, were read aloud in Prince William County Circuit Court.
Murder. Attempted aggravated malicious wounding. Use and display of a firearm, two counts. Discharge of a firearm, two counts.
"How do you plead?"
Laws, 55, answered the same way for each of the six charges: "I do not enter a plea at this time. I am not prepared for trial."
Laws said this despite the lengthy period of time that has passed since he was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2011, and charged with the murder of his roommate and childhood friend, Walter John Sulzbach, 53, of Kings Arm Drive in Manassas. Judge William Hamblen found this argument not credible. Laws' planned trial on Monday had already previously been rescheduled three times. Hamblen did, however, enter a not guilty plea on Laws' behalf, and granted a motion to continue the trial until March for unrelated reasons.
Laws' attorney, Robert May, told the court that he had been having medical issues in the preceding weeks and was not fully prepared for a trial.
"We haven't had the time that I feel comfortable with, going over things," Mays told the judge, and asked for a continuance.
"I'm inclined to grant it, based on the motion of the counsel, not the statements of the defendant, which I find vague, unspecific and unpersuasive," Hamblen said.
Several people left the courtroom in tears after hearing the judge's decision. Laws' three-day jury trial is now scheduled to begin on March 4, 2013. He is also accused of trying to shoot Sulzbach's fiance, Mary Franco.
At a preliminary hearing, Franco said that on Jan. 9, 2011, she and Sulzbach had gone out to see the movie Black Swan. When they returned, Laws was "sitting on a couch in the living room, very, very belligerent," Franco testified at the 2011 hearing. Laws, who lived in Sulzbach's basement, had apparently been drinking Four Loko, which contains up to 12 percent alcohol.
Franco left the room and around midnight, she heard Laws "shouting and shouting and shouting. He just wasn't making any sense, but he'd usually do that about once every three weeks, when he drank those Lokos."
About half an hour later, she heard a gunshot, ran into the hallway and saw Laws there. He ordered her into the bedroom, she said, where he waved the gun and then shot at her. The bullet went over her head, but touched her hair, Franco said.
A previous version of this story spelled the judge's name incorrectly. The error has been fixed.
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